Men’s Health Selling Native Ads Direct With Sharethrough

Native DirectMen’s Health is selling mobile native advertising campaigns directly to advertisers using Sharethrough.

The move is part of an expansion in Sharethrough’s business from an in-feed native ad exchange to a facilitator of native deals sold directly via SFP (Sharethrough for Publishers). As of today, all publishers will be able to sell native directly through Sharethrough.

“With Men’s Health specifically, we’ve reached a threshold where more than half of traffic is coming from mobile. We needed more unique ways to create mobile for our partners, not just the standard 300 x 250,” said Cory Rotkel, national digital ad director at Men’s Health publisher Rodale Inc.

Many publishers take cues from native-focused publishers like BuzzFeed in assembling packages, said Sharethrough’s product head, Curt Larson. “They also want to have content that’s consistent with their own content feeds,” he added.

Men’s Health has been testing the solution since June. A campaign for Armani Exchange featured a slideshow of its clothes, and had what Rotkel described as a “really high click-through rate.” Another with an electronics brand, which included video elements, had “the highest click-through rates in mobile sponsored posts as of today.”

Men’s Health has fully integrated sales teams that sell print, digital and events, allowing them to add native campaigns as part of larger packages that span platforms. “We’re leading the Rodale brand in terms of our native advertising offering. Almost everything we do includes [a] sponsored content piece,” Rotkel said.

The CPMs from Sharethrough units also offer a premium over standard banner units. “Our mobile sponsored posts fit more in the range of mobile rich media units vs. a 300 x 250,” Rotkel said.

For the directly sold mobile native ads in Men’s Health, advertisers will work with a content-creation team, separate from editorial, to design the posts. Men’s Health is not planning to extend campaigns throughout the entire Sharethrough network of sites.

In addition to direct selling mobile native campaigns, Men’s Health will use Sharethrough for backfill for any unsold inventory, all through the same platform.

Native posts on the exchange, as well as within Men’s Health, can be targeted to specific categories, like a fitness channel. Sharethrough’s exchange also offers targeting based on DMAs and by device, with user targeting on its road map.

If Rotkel judges Sharethrough’s platform a success, Men’s Health will extend its campaign to desktop. The publisher serves native ads on desktop through DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), but there is the possibility for them to expand its use of Sharethrough to desktop by integrating with DFP.

The Google ad server would do the decisioning about when to place the ad, with Sharethrough pulling in the creative using content cards, which support formats including blog posts, videos, infographics, Instagram and Vine. Sharethrough’s technology also provides deeper reporting, like “visibility, engagements, video completions and share buttons, by our ad unit,” Larson listed.

For now, honing in on mobile is a key part of Men’s Health’s strategy. Mobile native placements are performing better than desktop, a result that Rotkel attributes, for now at least, to the newness of mobile native placements.

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